Mix one part alternate history with two parts pulp fiction and you have Elsewhere – one of the most unique comics I’ve had the good fortune to read in recent memory. It is also one of the best comics I’ve read in recent memory despite this opening chapter being fairly standard fantasy fare.
The action opens on two rebels, Cort and Tavel, fleeing from the dungeons of the evil Lord Kragen. Their escape is slowed, however, when they stumble across an outlander in strange clothes strung up in a tree. Thankfully, the stranger – whose language they somehow understand despite her instance that they are speaking her language, which she calls English – proves a natural at managing the flying dragon creatures called steeds, which the rebels use to speed their escape.
High fantasy fans have seen this all before. A stranger arrives in a strange land besieged by dark forces. They show a natural aptitude for some rare, near magical skill and wind up endearing themselves to the local rebels. There’s no new twist here…
… except that The Chosen One is Amelia Earhart!
The inclusion of a famous aviator who disappeared under mysterious circumstances elevates Elsewhere among other fantasy comics built around the same tropes. Adding real-world characters into the story gives the plot more weight than it might have had with an original protagonist. Writer Jay Farber also does a credible job writing Amelia with more depth than the standard “Strong Female Protagonist”.
Sumeyye Kesgin’s artwork is, in a word, impressive. The world of Elsewhere looks familiar yet foreign, with its various races being humanoid yet clearly inhuman. There’s some poster-worth splash-pages of Amelia and her new allies riding their steeds in the night sky and Kesgin perfectly captures the mood in the silent scenes, such as where the weight of what has happened finally hits Amelia and she allows herself to collapse once no one is around to see her moment of weakness. The color art Ron Riley serves its purpose, not being very flashy but this fits given that all of this first chapter takes place in a dark dungeon or at night.
Bottom Line: If you love good fantasy stories, classic pulp fiction and imaginative art, you’ll enjoy Elsewhere.